The Display Of Culture In Fairy Tales

1462 words - 6 pages

Fairy tales are children’s first introduction to different cultures of the world. A click of heels or sprinkling of magic dust can transport children into the jungles of Africa or the countryside of England. Amongst the magical wands, princesses and frogs are the beliefs and customs of the tales’ origin. This is evident in two variations of the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs”. For example, Andrew Lang’s English version “The Three Little Pigs” represents the culture of England. Likewise, Joel Harris’ African version “The Story of the Pigs” represents the culture of Ethiopia. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term fairy tales as “a story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending”. Life is similar to fairy tales. Throughout life there are new beginnings and if we’re lucky happy endings. Culture is defined as “everything that makes up a person’s entire way of life”. Both the English and African versions of “The Three Little Pigs” affirm how fairy tales imitates culture. Fairy tales offer a glimpse into parts of a culture such as traditions, languages and beliefs.
The England tradition of home rental, small families and entertaining at home are found in the English version of the fairy tale. For example, “this dear old sty in which we have lived so happily will be given to a new family of pigs, and you will have to turn out” (Lang). The mother and children had rented the home for a long time. However, upon her death the home will be rented out to someone else. Furthermore, in England families are usually small. The mother pig had only three children. Entertaining of friends in the home is a way of life. The fox provided an excellent example of this custom. “The next day the fox started off for Blacky's house, because he had made up his mind that he would get the three little pigs together in his den, and then kill them, and invite all his friends to a feast” (Lang).
Similarly, the African version has a mother and children. However, unlike the English version, the Sow had five children. In Ethiopian culture, “Families tend to be large (seven or eight children)” (Duncan and Hayden). The author made a point of stating the Sow was a widow-woman. Perhaps it was because in Ethiopia a woman upon marriage does not take her husband’s name. Therefore by identifying her as a widow, the author was indicating she had been married and did not have children out of wedlock. It is a disgrace to the family to have a child out of wedlock. The author’s selection of the children’s name also is similar to the naming tradition rooted in the African culture. “Factors such as the order of birth play significant roles in the overall naming process and in the actual name given” (African Fathers’ Initiative). Big Pig, Little Pig and Runt were given names according to birth order. They were the oldest, second oldest and youngest.
Another tradition in Ethiopian culture is to bring food to the house of an ill or deceased person. ...

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